"There! Finished!" Bilbo Baggins leaned back in his chair, his quill placed back into its stand with an air of finality. His manuscript, the tale of his adventures 60 years earlier, was complete at last.

The old hobbit closed his eyes as the faces of those long gone returned to hover in his mind's eye. The two brothers, Fili and Kili, laughed with him at one of their own jokes. Bomber, fat old Bomber, shoveling in everything he could reach. Others flew past him in the blink of an eye, bringing tears to his eyes as he realized how dreadfully he missed each one of them. Finally, he reached the last remembrance of his long line of remembered friends: Thorin Oakenshield.

He recalled the fierce dwarven prince who'd led the small band of dwarves to reclaim the city of Erebor from Smaug. His long dark hair, the proud eyes, the powerful and strong body. Bilbo though back with melancholy on the King-Under-the-Mountain's final moments. No one had actually borne witness to the last words Thorin whispered into Bilbo's ear. Oh, certainly among his last words were those which Bilbo had relayed to the rest of the company. However, the last words the fatally wounded dwarf had whispered to the hobbit were of a rather different sort.

"Tell Lina to go on without me," Thorin had whispered. "Tell her that I will wait just beyond the Veil until she is ready to leave Middle-Earth and the halls of our fathers. Then we shall be together forever."

Thorin's voice had been shaking, both with the effort of drawing breath long enough to speak and with suppressed tears. As the dwarf's head fell back from the hobbit's ear and his final breath slipped out, a single tear had slipped from his clouded blue eyes and slid down the blood-covered visage. The sight of that single tear leaving a clear trail through the blood and dirt upon Thorin's face had embedded itself forever in Bilbo's memory.

"What am I thinking?" Bilbo exclaimed, sitting upright in his chair and picking up his quill again. "I have not nearly finished this tale, not without relating Lina's tale as well."

And so the old hobbit went to work, his quill scratching across the parchment's surface. It would be the final chapter he would write in this old book, the tale of Lina Firehammer.